Traditional Arguments for the Existence of God
We can accept the existence of the Trinity only by faith. Nevertheless, reason does provide evidence that confirms our belief in God. Throughout the centuries, theologians have suggested various arguments for the existence of God. These are:
- The moral argument: The search of every human being for “the best good” implies the existence of a moral Being. Our conscience and our moral understanding distinguish us humans from the animals. There must be a source for this moral insight that is independent of humans, and that Source is God.
- The mental argument: Our mental faculties, our imagination and intelligence, can be explained only by presupposing the existence of a super-intelligent Source.
- The cosmological argument: In view of the fact that every effect must have a cause, a never-ending chain of cause and effect must go back to the great “First Cause.” Nothing can proceed from nothing.
- The teleological argument: The intricate structure and design seen in nature, from the butterfly to the human brain, requires the existence of an intelligent Designer. Anyone who has ever put together a computer should find it easy enough to understand that the incredibly complex “computer” that we know as the human brain could not develop purely through natural causes.
- The ontological argument: Anselm, the eleventh-century archbishop of Canterbury, defined God as “than which nothing greater can be conceived.” He reasoned that life must be a necessary part of such a perfect Being, and therefore He must exist. To put it another way, if it’s possible to conceive such a Being exists, then He must in fact exist.
- The argument from experience: Human religious experiences, which are such a common part of our human existence, indicate that there must be something or someone behind them. The fact that so many people everywhere have had an actual experience of God makes very likely the existence of such a Being, who created the world and sustains it.
From the moment they were first advanced, these “evidences of God” have had both their defenders and their detractors. Several of the last of these evidences have been argued more in the past 100 years than the first ones. More recently, many philosophers and theologians who devote themselves to these issues have given greater attention to the ancient evidences for God’s existence, adapting them to our current thought patterns.
However, beyond these rational evidences, God invites us to know Him in our own experience. The triune God promises, ” ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ ” (Jeremiah 29:13).
(For further study: Deuteronomy 29:29; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Timothy 1:17; I Peter 1:2.)
Until next Saturday for the third FB Series.
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